I really can't recall how I heard of Ellen Gilchrist and why her book of collected short stories In the Land of Dreamy Dreams landed on my Amazon wish list, but I'm glad it did. I enjoyed these stories more than I expected and have been telling everyone I know to read this book which, given the book's history, is no big surprise: published with no fanfare or typical publicity by a small university press, it still managed to sell over 10,000 copies in its first release.
Based mostly in the South, where Gilchrist herself has and continues to live, the stories read kind of like a very feminine Raymond Carver. With very little she paints vivid image of often colorful women: a sprightly young girl who wants nothing more than to play her brother's games, a rich lady who spends most of her time in a fur covered bed because she's so bored with the world, the suffering daughter of a renowned eccentric woman that plans her own funeral, or a bitch at a country club who struggles against changes that challenge her steadfast views on race and class.
We are offered glimpses into seemingly mundane situations peppered with moments that might seem insignificant but change the characters forever. The stories are often as dark as they are memorable.